RENTON -- Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has grown into one of the team's more significant leaders over the last several seasons.
When Jeremy Lane knelt for the National Anthem last year in the preseason in support of Colin Kaepernick, it was Baldwin that stepped forward and helped the team devise a way to support Kaepernick's message without following his lead in kneeling for the anthem.
When Richard Sherman blasted the offense and coordinator Darrell Bevell last year - stating that the team shouldn't throw from the 1-yard line because of the failure at the end of Super Bowl XLIX two years prior - it was Baldwin that spoke authoritatively and with conviction that the comments wouldn't cause problems within the team.
And with controversy swirling amid reports of rifts between Sherman and Russell Wilson, members of the offense and defense, and the team floating Sherman in trade talks this offseason, again it was Baldwin doing his past to downplay the issues and move the team forward on Tuesday.
Baldwin both admitted that the locker room has its quarrels from time to time while downplaying their significance on team chemistry.
"Do we have issues in our locker room? Do we have arguments and disagreements? Of course. Every locker room does," Baldwin said. "What I think makes our locker room so great is we are transparent. We are up front with each other. We do hold each other to a high standard of accountability and sometimes, yeah, from the outside, it doesn't look healthy.
"But I think that's why we've been so successful and Pete (Carroll) and John (Schneider) have done a great job of creating an environment where they cultivate this individuality, they celebrate individuals, they allow us to be who we are because ultimately that's going to lead us to be the best we can be and then in the bigger picture that helps our team be the best we can be. Again, I just think it's a story about nothing. It's just a family dynamic that we have in our locker room that truly is special. To that point, I think you're just talking about a normal locker room."
It's hard to argue with Baldwin on that point. Seattle has made it to two Super Bowls and have won at least one playoff game in each of the last five years. The question then becomes has this particular instance of strife crossed a threshold to where it becomes detrimental to the team as a whole?
Baldwin said walking that line can absolutely be a challenge.
"It is a very fine line," he said. "Again, to Pete and John's credit, they've created an environment that cultivates that, that pushes you to that line, but once we touch (that line) we always come back. We always come back to center and we always refocus. At the end of the day, we all know what we're fighting for. We can always get back together and head in that direction. Yes, it is a fine balance but I think we've done a masterful job, Pete and John and the players in our locker room have done a masterful job of making sure it doesn't spill overboard."
Whether it will spill over or not remains to be seen. Linebacker Bobby Wagner also downplayed the validity of the topic as well, also referring to the locker room as "family." That a rift could exist doesn't necessarily portend struggles will follow. If what Baldwin suggests is accurate, the Seahawks have managed to perform at a high level for years despite similar issues in the past.
But it is a fine line to walk.
News & Notes:
-- Tackle George Fant (pictured above) said he's up to 320 pounds after adding weight this offseason. Fant felt it was necessary to help him be able to handle bull rushes from opposing defensive ends.
-- Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Dion Jordan and Frank Clark were the four players not on site for the team's OTA on Tuesday. Jordan had been at practice last Friday though he didn't take part. The workouts are voluntary, so it's no surprise to see some veterans not attend. Clark has been dealing with a case of the mumps, which is the reason for his absence.
-- Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, DeShawn Shead, Michael Wilhoite, Quinton Jefferson, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson and Tanner McEvoy were all on the practice field on Tuesday. However, the nine players were all either extremely limited or did not take part altogether.
Photo Credit: Seahawks tackle George Fant speaks to reporters following practices during Organized Team Activities on June 6, 2017. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)